Serial conman must pay back £70k cash

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A ‘WICKED’ serial fraudster who raked in tens of thousands of pounds through a series of scams has been ordered to pay back more than £70,000 to the authorities.

Sheffield conman Mark Shortland, aged 43, was jailed for three years in 2010 after ripping off girlfriends and students and preying on unemployed people.

In one scam he offered fake jobs to would-be chauffeurs desperate for work.

Detectives said Shortland was a Walter Mitty-style fantasist who tricked his female victims into believing he was a former commercial airline pilot.

In a proceeds of Crime Act hearing at Sheffield Crown Court a judge found he had benefited from his crimes to the tune of £70,385. The judge ordered him to pay back the money within six months, or face a further 21 months in jail.

Afterwards, Graham Wragg, head of South Yorkshire Police’s economic crime unit, said: “Shortland is a serial fraudster who has funded his lifestyle through defrauding others. “South Yorkshire Police will use the full powers of the Proceeds of Crime Act, not only to take his ill-gotten gains from him but also to use that money to compensate his victims where possible.”

At his original trial Sheffield Crown Court was told Shortland placed adverts on the Jobcentre Plus website advertising for drivers all over the country.

He interviewed people in Liverpool, Manchester, Luton and the East Midlands and offered jobs to around 100 people, asking them for a £100 deposit for the keys to the cars he claimed they would get.

Around 30 paid the money but the jobs never materialised.

Recorder of Sheffield Judge Alan Goldsack QC described the scam as ‘wicked’ and said many of those offered jobs had been “completely taken in” by the conman.

“There were no jobs. Many of these people had been unemployed for a long time and pinned their future on that job,” said the judge.

“Others handed in their notices on their existing jobs believing they had a new job.

“You have shown not one hint of remorse.”

Shortland also made money by advertising items for sale on the eBay internet auction site.

He received cash for goods from people all over the country but never sent them any items.

Shortland, who was living at Moss House Court, Mosborough, also persuaded a girlfriend to invest in his ‘chauffeuring’ business by taking out the finance on a top-of-the range BMW he said they needed. It ended up costing her more than £20,000 when she tried to pull out of the deal.

But he made most of his cash by telling a friend he could organise a £75,000 mortgage advance on his behalf. When the cash came through it was paid into his account and has never been seen again.

The conman claims it vanished after he buried the money in a garden - but Judge Goldsack said that explanation was ludicrous.

Shortland admitted six thefts, three fraud offences and one count of obtaining services by deception.